Cam Newton has a new deal and a new diploma heading into the 2015 season
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Don't know what your first paycheck was like 24 days after graduation, but Cameron Jerrell Newton cashed in Tuesday, with his Auburn diploma headed to his mom's home in College Park, Ga., by signing a $103 million contract with the Carolina Panthers.
It's good to be in a job market that pays so well, college degree or no, but such is the life of Newton, the quarterback who led Auburn to the 2010 national title, and who saw fit to return to school to graduate during the spring semester.
Jackie Newton, Cam's mother, can't put a price on what that meant to her.
"Getting a college degree says something about an individual. It's like a cap on the bottle. It really seals the deal," Jackie Newton said.
Cam Newton said he returned to Auburn to fulfill the promise he made to his mother, who insisted he finish what he started.
"I'm a college graduate and the pride I felt when I got my certificate is something I wanted him to experience," she said after he graduated last month. "I just wanted him to have that experience of learning."
And to do more.
"There's a little brother that's looking at him and other children who look up at Cameron as a role model," she said.
"Now, the young kids can see education is important regardless how athletic you are or whatever your athletic passion. It's important to go back to school and get an education and have the skills no one can take from you.
"We stressed education in our family. I'm happy that Cameron got his degree sooner rather than later. He'll always have that."
Newton graduated in May, but elected not to walk in cap and gown to receive his diploma. He said he didn't want to take the spotlight away from the other students.
It hasn't always been the perfect trip for Newton, however, like the scary wreck last year when Newton's truck flipped. He suffered two fractures in his lower back, but otherwise was healthy enough to return to play the following week.
"I know he's a strong young man, but I worry as a mom," Jackie Newton said. "I told him, 'God has something special for you.'
"Cam is resilient. He always bounces right back up."
Newton will finish his fifth year away from Auburn this year, with earnings of $53 million in his NFL contract alone. Part of that is the first year of his new contract, which is guaranteed for at least $67.6 million the next three seasons. Then there are the endorsement deals.
There's also the college degree.
"That was an awesome thing for him to do because I know he had a crazy schedule because he still had contractual commitments," Jackie Newton said. "This is his offseason. He's supposed to relax, but he wanted to come back and get his degree. It's amazing."
Cam Newton talks of using his sociology degree to open a day care center for kids. Jackie Newton said that's not just some whim.
"He's been talking about this for a long time, even when he graduated from high school," she said. "Cam loves children. When he has an opportunity to open up his own day care or learning center, or whatever he wants to do, it will probably be one of a kind."
That is likely an understatement about Newton, who said he'd celebrate his new contract this way: "Pop a couple of milk carton bottles with some Lucky Charms and some Cinnamon Toast Crunch added to it."
Jackie Newton knows Cam things.
"He's just at another level, for the good," she said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine